It seems every child's birthday starts with a theme and from there it can get kinda crazy and expensive. Whether you are looking online or in a store, if you choose all the items that match your theme, you could spend way too much money on things that will be thrown away.
For a fraction of the cost, you can transform a roll of themed wrapping paper into cool party decor! Forget about themed plates, cups and napkins and buy the cheaper solid colors instead. You can use the wrapping paper like a table cloth, table runner or you can cut it into rectangles for place mats. Fancy scissors would make a pretty edge but not needed. You can also decorate the door of your house with wrapping paper (if it is a home party) or make a nice background for birthday banners and signs on the walls and even a photo backdrop. Get creative and remember it takes very little for the idea of a theme to show through.
Another money saving idea for party decor is to use what your kids already have. Young children's toys can be used to create a centerpiece for the table- dinosaurs, super heroes, princesses, trucks. Older children's sports memorabilia or bedroom decor can help create a theme around the party area.
And one last note about parties- stop the treat bag insanity!! I understand the concept, but what parent today needs a bag of small junk to trash later. If you feel you have to do a treat, do some research and be creative. Most parents don't mind a treat bag of snack type foods, they can keep these in the car or throw in lunch boxes. Photos make great "treats", a photo of the whole group, or with the bithday kid.
Hope one of these tips help you plan a great birthday party!